Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Death of a Library

The title should actually read The Death of Two Libraries, but the actual title is more dramatic. For the last two years I have been at the University of Michigan in the Schools of Social Work (SSW) and Public Health (SPH) and this week the library at each school is closing. SPH library closure is quite sudden and is because the school received stimulus funds for lab space. I am not too torn up about it because that library was kind of a hole anyway; although it was a quiet, if gloomy place to study.

I've known about the SSW library closure since the end of summer and as I work at the circulation desk, all semester I have been answering the question, why is the library closing? My answers have varied from the real reasons like: to reduce duplication of services, economic downturn, accese to online resources, the new head of libraries is an economist, blah, blah blah to other more Jessica-like responses like, we hate books. Regardless of the reasons I am particularly saddened by the SSW library closure.

It is such a nice space (please see pictures below). It is one of the most naturally lighted libraries I have ever been in and that is saying something considering it is located in the basement. There is just something special about having a space where one can quietly sit and be physically surrounded by millions of words. While one can perhaps browse for something on the internet more easily than a library, I love to browse actual library shelves. One of the first things I do when I enter someone's house or apartment is browse their bookshelves. Books can tell you so much about a person while also leaving you wanting to know more about them. Why do they have this book? How many times have they read it? Do they have a favorite.

Didn't the ability to write down our thoughts and keep physical records set humans apart from other species and is a criterion for civilization? Now when someone enters what will then be the space of the former SSW library they will see some computers and perhaps a student lounge. What they won't see are decades of work of social pioneers and theorists that have worked to improve the world as they saw it. They may see little that helps them understand social work.

I am sad about these libraries for all the reasons I have mentioned, but especially because the SSW library has been my like a second home. It was the first and will be the last place I worked in Michigan. So when I walk out the doors today for the last time I am not just leaving a job, I am a leaving a home and a family.
Look at the public art and great lighting!

Moving stuff.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nights like this

This is a picture I took from my window last night of the first real snow I've seen this season. Night's like this make me so happy/thankful/comforted that I can curl up in my warm bed and dream of snow blanketed landscapes instead of actually being out on one.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Before anyone breezes through this post thinking it is some feminist rant let me assure you it is not. Although I probably could go off on one of those for a few paragraphs. However, I did feel objectified today and in the most unlikely of places, a salon. Usually when you go to a salon the person cutting your hair chats it up with you a bit, not today.

I went to get a hair cut because it seems when one has short hair that is all one does with dispensable income, or in my case non-existent dispensable income. Nevertheless, vanity won out and I went to the salon to get, I am ashamed to say, my 5th haircut of the year. I use to be an every 6 months or so girl and the change to every other month is disheartening.

Back to feeling objectified. I went the the Above Ground Salon, perhaps named for it's singular distinguishing characteristic of being above ground? I actually like my hair cut on one hand I was struck by the stylists perfect melding of hair science and art. She really knew what she was doing. But the hour and a half process, the number of people watching and running their fingers through my hair and the fact that my stylist stated that she could "conquer my hair" left me feeling a little subhuman.

At one time there were four people standing around watching my hair... not me, my hair. When I made a joke about it they either looked at me like I was an alien or ignored me. Most of the time my hair was in front of my eyes so there was no connection between them and me. I felt a little like a model, not the kind that gets lots of attention and gets to tell people they make bad clothes, but the kind who has to sit in art class in their underwear or in the nude so people can sketch.

Here's a bad self-take of the end result. It is probably the only day it will look as shiny and straight as she did it. The hair cut wasn't enough so I had to jazz it up by wearing this hoodie:)

Public Bathrooms

This post involves some bathroom humor, literally. I just went to the bathroom to tinkle and the only other person in the restroom was a girl pacing back and forth talking on her cell phone. This bothers me for many reasons:

1- I think it is disgusting to talk on a device that you hold to your mouth in a room used by the public to urinate and defecate. I won't go into leaving toothbrushes in the bathroom but in your own house you have some control.

2-I think it's an invasion of privacy, my privacy. If I wanted someone in a remote location to be privy to my bodily processes I would have peed in the street.

3-Finally, I think it is awkward. What do you say as you come out of the stall? "Tell your mom Hi for me!"

Am I wrong to assume some level of privacy even in a public bathroom?

All right, I am done with that rant.